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what are dental flippers?

A dental “flipper” is a temporary denture. It is typically used to fill in the gap in your smile while you’re waiting for dental implants, a dental bridge, or partial permanent dentures. But since flippers are the most affordable dental restoration option, sometimes people choose to use their flipper for years. Some people wear a flipper for an extended period while they are saving up for bridges or dentures, others opt for a flipper long-term instead of a costlier treatment option.

Wearing a Dental Flipper

Traditional flippers are made of acrylic, with the replacement tooth or teeth set into a rigid base. They are rather brittle, and can break easily if they are dropped or aren’t handled correctly.  On the other hand, many people find that lightweight flippers are easier to adjust to wearing than heavier, more cumbersome dentures.

But unlike dentures or bridges, flippers may not do a great job of mimicking your natural teeth. And they don’t provide the same functionality as other tooth restorations such as implants – you won’t be biting into an apple with a dental flipper.

Dental flippers can create oral health issues. Salvia may not be as efficient at washing away food and other debris in the area covered by a flipper. This can lead to plaque buildup, gum inflammation and infections and eventual tooth decay. You will likely find that plaque buildup increases overall, especially on the teeth around their flipper, so make sure to brush and floss your natural teeth with particular care.

You also need to keep your flipper very clean. You may not be able to soak flippers overnight to clean them as you would with a standard denture (ask your dentist, some flippers will discolor if soaked too long), and you need to be careful when brushing the flipper as you can break it if you apply too much pressure. Use unscented soap or a denture toothpaste to clean the flipper, as abrasives in regular toothpastes will damage the flipper. Your dentist can also professionally clean your flipper, which is a good thing to have done during your regular checkups.

Dental Flipper Problems

A dental flipper gets its name from its lack of stability in your mouth. A properly fitted permanent denture isn’t easily removed from your mouth, typically you need to exert a bit of gentle pressure to break the seal that holds the denture in place. In contrast, a flipper isn’t held in place by suction but by a pair of wire hooks that slip over nearby teeth. You can “flip” the flipper in and out of place with ease. Unfortunately, the flipper may also easily move out of position when you’re eating, smiling, or talking too.

Some people experience few or no problems with their flippers slipping out of position, others do. In general, a flipper may become more troublesome after extended wear due to nearby teeth shifting. The solution is to go back to your dentist and get another flipper made. In the meantime, you can try adding the tiniest drop of denture adhesive to the flipper to help hold it in place. Most people find that a small dot of denture cream on the end tips of the flipper (apply it to the front of the flipper, the part that faces your gums) works best. But ask your dentist, as some flippers are not well suited for use with denture adhesives.

Dental Flipper Benefits

Flippers are affordable – about $300-$500, depending on how many teeth need to be replaced. For this reason alone, many people choose flippers rather than other dental restoration options.

Although you can purchase prefabricated flippers online and in some drugstores for about $10-$20, these are far from ideal. Flippers should be made for you, otherwise you run the risk of irritated gums, cavities, possible movement of your natural teeth due to the pressure of an ill-fitting flipper, and other dental problems. Plus, it’s unlikely that you will find a pre-fab flipper that looks natural, is comfortable to wear, and stays in place.

As noted above, flippers can be more comfortable to wear than permanent partial dentures. For people who can’t adjust to wearing dentures, flippers may be the perfect replacement option.

If your budget allows, you might also want to ask your dentist about flexible partial dentures, which have a nylon rather than an acrylic base. Flexibles tend to look more like natural teeth than flippers, often don’t have metal clasps, and are exceptionally comfortable to wear. You can expect to pay $700-$1,500 for a flexible partial denture.

Flippers and flexibles are typically covered by dental insurance and dental savings plans. Check with your plan provider to ensure you have coverage. There is typically a waiting period before dental insurance will cover temporary or permanent dentures, and there are often limits on how frequently you can get tooth restoration treatments.

Dental savings plans do not have waiting periods or restrictions on how often you can get care. Find out more about dental savings plans by calling 1-800-238-5163 or visiting

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